Military Divorce and Deployment: An Unexpected Twist is Shown in a Recent Study


Florida divorces can be complicated for many reasons, and in Jacksonville, where there is a heavy military presence; divorces can be even more complicated. When a military couple divorces, the process is often more complex than when a civilian couple divorces. There are a number of additional factors to consider, especially when it comes to issues such as equitable distribution and child custody, since there are often multiple retirement accounts, savings accounts, issues of deployment and the like.

In a military divorce, often factors come up involving the divided household due to the service-member’s military responsibilities. These are also factors that are part of the every-day life of military families, so the issues are not necessarily new to the spouses while they deal with a pending divorce. Also, military divorces are not always for the reasons society seems to think, such as long deployments, uncertainty in war-times, possible moves, etc. Many people think that deployment of one military spouse would increase the risk of divorce. It is easy to assume that the risk of divorce increases when a military couple is separated for a period of time and the deployed spouse is faced with a number of stresses. But a recent study has debated whether deployment is related to an increase risk for divorce.

A new study conducted by Benjamin Karney (UCLA) and John Crown (RAND Corp), looked at whether the amount of time a person is deployed has an effect on the risk of divorce and what that effect could be. The study surveyed over one –half million service members who were married after 9/11 and who served between 2002 and 2005. The study included all branches of the service and reserves, and collected data about gender, race and presence of children among the couples.

Contrary to most expectations, longer deployment was associated with a lower risk of divorce. According to the authors of the study, ‘For the vast majority of the U.S. military–the longer that a service member was deployed while married, the lower the subsequent risk of marital dissolution…. Deployment appears to enhance the stability of marriage, the longer the deployment, the greater the benefit.’ In twenty (20) different tests, the authors found that only active duty officers and enlisted Air Force personnel were at more risk of divorce due to deployment.

The results of this new study are different from the usual reports in the press that think about deployment as a crisis similar to an illness or a natural disaster. Rather, this new study showed that deployment is a normative event for military families; it is a challenge to be dealt with but not a crisis. For more information on this topic, see Does Demployment Cuase Military Families to Divorce?

If you are in the bracket that is considering divorce, then you should speak with a family law attorney in your area to find out what factors need to be considered and what your rights and options are as you move forward.

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